Yellow-lipped sea snake

Common Name: Yellow-lipped sea snake

Scientific Name: Laticauda colubrina


This snake has a prominent paddle-like tail. The conspicuous grayish-white body coloration with prominent dark transverse bands or blotches is markedly different from the coloration of the Pelagic sea snake.

This coloration could be confused with other sea snakes (similar in appearance) resident in the Australian and Southeast Asian regions, but it is less likely to be encountered in the Central Pacific.

This snake is common in the Republic of Palau and also infrequently encountered in Micronesia; however, it is poorly documented east of Palau. Laticauda may be found in extremely shallow shoreline and reef conditions. As a member of the family Laticaudidae, it is one of the few sea snakes known to haul out on land for purposes of egg-laying or in sea caves and isolated rock islands where aggregations of unknown significance are reported.

It is technically a venomous species but rarely bites defensively. Human envenomations are rare or nonexistent. Its venom is only used in feeding to immobilize fish and other animals on which it feeds. However, to be safe, individuals of Laticauda should not be handled casually by inexperienced persons. One or more harmless banded eels have the elongated body form, paddle-like tail and coloration of the yellow-lipped sea snake and hence can be confused with this species.